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Systematic Innovations in Serving the Needs of Older Adults

With the support of the Archstone Foundation, the SCAN Foundation and the American Gold Star Manor, the College of Health and Human Services is committed to serving the needs of an aging population by going beyond the traditional academic arena to

  1. Engage communities in identifying issues and solutions
  2. Incorporate the voices of older adults and their friends and families
  3. Work with community organizations in the design and implementation of solutions

The financial and programmatic support of each of the four above-named partners is facilitating faculty teams to work with community members to identify and address the most pressing needs of older adults in order to facilitate aging in place at the American Gold Star Manor. To date, we have funded four innovative projects to work with older adults at the Manor to prioritize and support them in aging in place with the highest quality of life.  The projects are also a means of fostering interprofessional collaboration among faculty at the university and train students from across diverse fields to work effectively with an aging population.

Fall Prevention

Multicomponent Dual-Task and Single-Task Interventions to Reduce Risk of Falling in Community-Dwelling Older Adults

Faculty Team:

Principal Investigator: Vennila Krishnan, Ph.D., PT. Associate Professor of Department of Physical Therapy; Co-investigators: Olfat Mohamed, Ph.D., PT.  Chair of the Department of Physical Therapy; Young-Hee Cho, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Psychology (College of Liberal Arts); and Barbara White, DrPh, RN-C, Associate Professor Emerita of Department of Nursing.

For more information, Contact:


Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries and financial burden among Americans aged 65 and older. Falls can also have serious psychological consequences such as a fear-of-falling. Many older adults who experience a fear-of-falling limit daily activities creating further impairment in balance and reduction of muscle strength.  Although many older adults feel that falls are unpredictable and unpreventable, for more than 20 years, a considerable amount of research has demonstrated the effectiveness of group exercise programs emphasizing balance (single-task interventions) in reducing falls.  Recent studies have found that declines in cognitive skills associated with planning, monitoring and conducting goal-oriented complex actions (executive function), in addition to decreased balance ability, are associated with an increased risk of falls. When two attention-demanding tasks are performed simultaneously, both tasks compete for attention resources and thus challenge the brain to decide which task to prioritize.  The ability to perform two tasks simultaneously, each of which could be performed independently, is called “dual-task” performance. The current project will investigate the effectiveness of two (8 weeks each) multi-component interventions (single-task intervention and dual-task intervention) on the reduction of fall risks in independently functioning community-dwelling older adults at American Gold Star Manor, Long Beach.

Walking Program

A Purposeful Design for Older Adults: Connecting Seniors to their Community through Walking (CSCW)

Faculty Team:

Principal Investigator: Kellie Walters, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Kinesiology Department; 

Co-investigators: Jan Schroeder, Ph.D., Professor & Chair, Kinesiology Department; Michelle Alencar, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Kinesiology Department; Hsiang-Ling (Sharon) Teng, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Physical Therapy Department; and Patti LaPlace, MPA, Lecturer, Recreation and Leisure Studies Department; Mary Marshall, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Gerontology



Limitations to physical activity participation for older adults have many detrimental effects, including decreased connectivity with the community and poorer health. To increase community connectedness, physical activity levels, and walking self-efficacy of Gold Star Manor residents, the CSCW Program will purposively design six walking paths throughout the city for Long Beach seniors through a participatory process with Gold Star residents.  The PI will work with members of the Communication Team, the City of Long Beach, and co-investigators to research and develop a purposefully designed walking program for Gold Star Manor residents. This will be done by 1) working closely with Gold Star Manor residents to brainstorm areas of the Long Beach community they would like to visit and walk around 2) meeting with the City of Long Beach to develop business partnerships and design walking paths that are safe and engaging for older adults, and 3) conducting a PhotoVoice research project tailored at understanding the unique needs of walking solutions for older adults in Long Beach, CA.  Research staff will then meet Gold Star Manor residents at Gold Star Manor and will drive (in the Gold Star Manor bus) or take public transportation to locations they have specifically picked out. Each monthly walk will have an educational theme (e.g., heart disease prevention and exercises to improve walking ability).  The research staff member(s) leading the walk will provide educational information about that health-related topic (e.g., how walking lowers the risk of heart disease) as well as information about what programs and resources the community offers for older adults interested in that health-related topic. The monthly walks will also include visits to local businesses that offer senior discounts on experiences specifically tailored to them (e.g., discounted coffee hours). These experiences will also include opportunities for the Gold Star Manor residents to “give back to their community” (e.g., working with children at the Boys and Girls Club) as explicitly requested by residents.  The impact of the CSCW project will be evaluated by: 1) Anthropometric data (height, weight, and blood pressure), 2) Walking self-efficacy of participants, 3) Walking ability, 4) Community connectivity and 5) Program sustainability.

Service Navigation

Navigator Link: A Community-Academic Partnership Pilot Program 

Faculty Team:

Principal Investigator: Grace Reynolds DPA, Professor, Health Care Administration;

Co-investigators: Sandhya Shimoga, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Health Care Administration, and Veronica Lira, MSW, LCSW, President and Chief Executive Officer at Alternatives for Vets



Older adults and the elderly often have difficulties navigating support systems that are designed to help them. This project will be a joint effort between the Health Care Administration and Social Work departments of California State University, partnering with Alternatives for Vets, a non-profit organization located in downtown Long Beach, and SCAN Health Plan’s Independence at Home to develop and implement a Navigator Link program at the American Gold Star Manor. AGSM residents and stakeholders will be involved in Phase I, which will include a needs assessment conducted through focus groups; focus group transcripts will be analyzed to develop Phase II of the project, which is the development, implementation, and evaluation of a student intern—driven Navigator Link program. Outcome evaluation data will be collected through the Navigator Link program, as well as by Alternatives for Vets, which specializes in helping veterans obtain VA benefits, and will be a primary service “link” in the context of the program. 

Health Literacy

Creating a Culture of Health within the American Gold Star Manor Community

Faculty Team:

Principal Investigator: Gail Farmer, DrPH, Professor, Health Sciences;

Co-Investigators: Long Wang, Ph.D., MD, RDN, FAND, Assistant Professor of Nutrition and Dietetics in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences; and Theodora Papachristou, MPH, Lecturer, Health Sciences



Research demonstrates that grief and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can result in feelings of loneliness, depression, anxiety, and maladaptive food consumption. Among the long-term sequelae of these emotional states is social isolation. Older adults who are American Gold Star parents or military veterans are particularly vulnerable to these conditions.  Based upon NIH’s Science of Behavioral Change, this proposed program is highly innovative. It encapsulates three pivotal components that promote health and quality of life: (1) health literacy & nutrition, (2) physical & cognitive activity, and (3) a sense of belonging. A series of 15-week workshops which integrate health literacy and nutritional cooking demonstrations will be developed, implemented and evaluated by a sustained, committed “learning community” consisting of stakeholders at different levels (AGSM residents, students, faculty, and community partners). Trained interprofessional teams of students and AGSM residents will implement the workshops. Formation of “cooking buddies” and “gardening buddies” among AGSM residents will be encouraged throughout the project to promote physical and cognitive activities and reduce social isolation. The program will be evaluated for increased health literacy, nutrition-related knowledge and attitudes, changes in dietary practices, and impact on social isolation.

The Experience of Alzheimer's Disease Family Caregivers in a Latino Community: Cultural congruence and disparities in utilization of support services

Alzheimer's Disease Family Caregivers

Latino family pictureLatino Family Picture

Older Latinos are of the fastest growing demographic groups in the country and have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias than the general population. Latino family caregivers provide more intensive care and are at risk of adverse health outcomes from the stressors of caregiving, yet they utilize fewer formal support services.

With support from the National Institute on Aging (R03AG054142), Dr. Iveris L. Martinez is currently conducting a study investigating the potential causes of the underutilization of services by examining the expressed preferences of Latino family caregivers and comparing these to the perspectives of service providers. This research is being conducted in collaboration with the Alliance for Aging, Inc. the local area agency on aging for Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties.

Dr. Martinez is seeking to expand this research to better inform policies and reduce disparities for Latino caregivers. For more information, email her at:

Data on Aging

National Archive of Computerized Data on Aging

Library of electronic data on aging sponsored by the National Institute on Aging available for analysis.

Administration on Aging: Aging Integrated Database (AGID)

Data on government supportive services programs for older adults in the United States, including population characteristics and expenditures.

Global Alzheimer’s Association Interactive Network

Online repository of Alzheimer’s Disease-related data on over 488,000 subjects from 45 research partners.

Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System

Centers for Disease Control database on adult health behaviors, chronic conditions, and preventive care from 50 US states based on 400,000 adult interviews each year.

Gateway to Global Aging Data

Access and documentation on population survey data on aging around the world.

Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics

Infographics and comprehensive reports based on data from numerous federal US agencies. Federal Interagency Forum

Research Networks

Gerontological Society of America (GSA)

GSA is the oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging dedicated to the promotion of the study of aging and dissemination of information to scientists, policy decision-makers, and the general public.  Sections and interest groups span basic biological research to clinical to behavioral and social research, humanities and policy. The association sponsors an annual conference and six academic journals publications and numerous newsletters on developments in aging.

American Society on Aging (ASA)

ASA is a multidisciplinary association with membership comprised of more than 5,000 practitioners, educators, administrators, and other leaders in the field.  The association sponsors an annual conference and diverse publications on developments in aging.

Association for Anthropology and Gerontology, and the Life Course (AAGE) 

AAGE was established in 1978 as a multidisciplinary group dedicated to the exploration and understanding of aging across the diversity of human cultures with holistic, comparative, and international. AAGE sponsors numerous mentoring opportunities, as well as, scholarships for students. Anthropology & Aging (formerly Anthropology & Aging Quarterly) is the official publication of AAGE and is published as a full-fledged digital journal.

Alzheimer’s Association International Conference® (AAIC®)

AAIC® is the Alzheimer’s Association annual international conference, with opportunities to present, network and learn from the scientists and policymakers dedicated to advancing dementia science.